Writer's Group Exercise 31/03/2014
We begin with the basic twitch:
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Index , index, ring, ring.
The left hand of Demi Sargis has been performing the foxtrot ever since it was run over by a red Ford Festiva back in the summer of ‘08. She remembers perching on a PVC covered gurney, doctor pointing out the obvious, variations on darkness and shadow, bones splintered and frayed like wet matchsticks.
Her, thinking, “those aren’t marriageable fingers”.
Thinking, “no man going to wanna put a Harry Winston on that”.
Thinking, “that’s another goddamn flaw Imma have to learn to disguise”.
Along with untannable legs.
Along with the absence of thigh gap.
Along with being 3 inches shorter than the shortest supermodel.
The ******* burden of being female.
The doctor says, “you should regain the majority of the dexterity you had prior to the accident, over time, with a good physiotherapist.”
“…You don’t play an instrument do you?”
The physiotherapist is a fundamentalist optimist.
“It’s not until you injure your body that you truly appreciate how it works. We are all miracles.”
“Yes. Absolutely. A miracle.”
“Don’t get Jesus on me. There is no miracle here, just metacarrot - metacootie - metacaramel damage – check the referral.”
“That’s what I said.”
Regis Square. 9pm. Bathed in a waterfall of KFC neon…
At the crossroads of the nightclub district.
Demi Sargis. Shiny, black patent three-inch pumps, now the same height as the shortest supermodel. Flanked by Sal (single) and Terri (attached, but open to negotiation). All eyes on the divining hand.
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Slow, slow, quick, quick.
Index, index, ring, ring.
YOLO Bar or Club Isis. Left or right. Which finger ending the cycle of the twitch, sealing their night’s destination. Standing undefeated at a one-hundred percent hit rate. Follow the hand, find a man (see Fig.1):
Fig. 1 'Navigating Attraction within Mundane Scenarios to Avoid Missed Connections'
Yes. Just follow the hand, to find a man.
Tonight it’s Mission Sal.
Suppressing a smirk and raising an eyebrow towards YOLO, she concedes…
Turns out, some of us are miracles.
Manicure Image from:
Who wants to read some rough-as-guts-writing? Me, me, me! You, you, you? GREAT. I'm a founding member of a local Write Night (writer's group) and I need to choose one of my past exercises to re-write and/or extend.
If someone is incredibly bored and doesn't mind reading some unedited work, then check out the below and tell me which one to re-write, in other words, the one you'd like to read more of, because I'm torn between the three.
The Regular (Format: For the page)
Punts is a pub just down from the Nandos on the corner of Windsor and Kitts. It’s the red, white and blue affair, a palette that belongs as much to the heyday of the British Commonwealth as it does to the Land of the Free.
The owner, Leeds born Dagesse, bought the joint six years ago after finalising a divorce to a lady I know only as “the blazing inferno”. Whether that nickname has something to with hair colour, temperament or menopausal flushes, I’m not brave enough to ask- there is a permanent happy hour discount at stake and, more importantly, Dagesse is descended from Rhonda Valley mining stock, those men are as hard as the rock they grafted.
As far as I’m aware, the only woman in his life these days is Mary Bennett, a fox terrier whom whenever I see her, imbues me with a sudden sense of nostalgia and desire to dig out my late Grandfather’s HMV vinyl collection (a record label whose logo features a dog of the same breed).
Last Christmas I gifted Dagesse a 1962 Gene Pitney record from that collection so he could share in the reference. I’ve since seen he has thoroughly embraced it.
He’s framed the record and hung it over the dog bowl.
Unfortunately it’s at jowl level; so a mixture of coagulated spit and fragments of Hill’s Canine Ultra-Allergen Free have escaped digestion and partially obliterated the song title. What was once “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” has evolved into the gender flip, “a…ho…shot…bert…”.
Sometimes when it’s quiet Dagesse will join me for a Fosters, we’ll talk about José Mourinho's return to Chelsea, the shitty exchange rate and Cameron’s “millionaire’s tax cuts”- which (if we’re honest) we’d probably embrace, if we were in fact millionaires.
But we’re just two men drinking cheap beer, entertaining dreams of grandeur, in shoes we’d rather scuff than polish, in a pub called Punts.
Three Years to Go
Monologue: Character - Lisbeth, 32.
By the time I’m 35 I’ll either be dead or married.
Dead because what happens is that each time I get my heart broken, I leave.
And when I say leave…
I mean, I leave the country.
I leave everything behind.
Dead because I cast myself deeper and deeper into unknown lands and inhospitable landscapes; in the hope that Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Need’ will kick in and I’ll be so busy just trying to survive, that eventually I’ll never have to deal with anything. In between navigating unsealed roads on a 6th-hand Uralmoto to filtering water through the remains of a checkered keffiyeh, there’d be no time to process the petty. No time to wonder what went wrong, why they did what they did, why I did what I did and why I still do it.
Some questions are too difficult to ask.
Or perhaps it’s more, that the answers are too difficult to hear.
the Wadi Rum
Dead because my passport is a collage of stamps from countries people forbade me to visit, from my Mother to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But I never listened to them before, and can't see myself changing now.
Dead because, that'll eventually catch up with me.
In my absence, in the layer of silence I wear like a qiviut, I leave those I left behind with little but mystery, confusion, and a few megabytes of photos displaying a past they now question the authenticity of.
Ade, Leon, Vin, perhaps Daamin, they will monitor my social networks for the post of a song of shared significance or some subtle cry of despair that I can’t function in life without them.
The truth is I don’t. My lovers follow me like ghosts. Our histories, arguments and sweet words, knitted together, dragging behind me like a Bride’s train. From time to time, taking unexpected form, stealing my breath when I perform an archived e-mail search, or stumble across someone with a similar arch in their brows or slouch in their walk.
My disappointment when I register it's not one of them only serves to remind me there is another life out there. One I am simultaneously drawn to and run from.
And married, well...
Married because, it's always the unexpected which happens. Married because, it's so ridiculous it just might work. Married because, someone might finally convince me life is about more than just myself.
The Sale of Central Park (Format: For the page)
Everything is for sale. At the right price, in the right climate; especially in times of panic or greed. Where farcical suggestions, that on a normal day, would be dismissed on the scrap heap of incomprehension, suddenly become the beacon of hope - not because we think they are good ones, but because no one else proposes a solution.
Rising crime rates.
People are desperate. And if yours is the only voice speaking, then that is the one we will follow.
And so it came, that on this day Molly and I stood and watched the sun rise over the last hours of a national landmark. We were to witness history made by history lost.
Nothing lasts forever.
Not the things you grew up with.
Not the things you grow to care about.
Certainly not the things you love.
Molly has pockets stuffed with tulips and daffodils. She made a $50 donation to the Conservancy three years ago, she said she was only taking back what was hers.
I have a pry bar in my left hand, and my right, my right is protectively wrapped around an iron florette. It is attached to the arm of a bench I’ve “salvaged”. I think I can up-cycle the piece, and sell it on to a collector – once I re-stain the wood and remove the rusted donor plaque: “"C'est Lui Pour Moi, Moi Pour Lui, Dans La Vie" (in life, there is only him for me, and me for him).
She runs her finger over the brass inscription, with a longing I’ve come to recognise but learnt to ignore. That’s Molly. She thinks that somehow, as if, just by touching, she can transfer the passion of a past long gone and inject it into a hopeless present.
I wish I was a more willing subject.
I don’t know what happened.
I wonder if our relationship will endure much longer than the flowers suffocating in the depths of her polyester blazer. It seems a cruel and drawn out death.
A man behind me touts the virtues of the site’s future plans to a confused tourist with an old city map. I silently refute each point:
“…the proposed construction will create jobs” (temporarily)
“…and include a set of residential buildings” (for the rich)
“…plus, without a central meeting point, it will decrease crime in the inner city” (pushing it out to the suburbs)
But the tourist nods, believing him to be true. Most would. He has a voice of a politician, steady and even. He has conviction. Me? I say nothing, as is my way.
The man examines the out-dated map and points the tourist in the direction of the Museum of Modern Art.
Molly takes ten paces to the left and tilts her head towards the growl of diesel motors, her dark eyes searching.
“This is it” she says needlessly, as if I can’t see what’s right in front of me.
When I was little, birthdays used to be a thing.
SNAPSHOT EIGHT YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- Invitations and RSVPs
- Pretty dress, patent shoes
- Hair tied back with a ribbon
- Infamous birthday cake (one year I had a swimming pool, the next a horse's head)
- Orange wedge jelly boats and fairy bread
- 10 other little girls running up and the down the hallway screeching and popping balloons.
- Pass-the-Parcel and Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey
SNAPSHOT FOURTEEN YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- I'm too cool for birthdays and have decided it's something other people celebrate but not me.
- My friends throw me a surprise sleepover birthday party anyway.
SNAPSHOT 29 YEARS OLD:
- Gwangju, South Korea.
- I slipped over in my apartment and have bruises all down my left arm.
- Almost forgot my birthday.
- I buy a candle from Paris Baguette.
- A slice of cake from Starbucks.
- Light the candle, eat the cake, by myself, in my apartment.
- I watch five episodes of The Office (US) on my laptop (which sounds like a lawnmover because the fans are broken).
- Then write my favourite Great Gatsby quotes over all my dinner ware.
At some point during my life I lost the point of celebrating my birthday. My question became: Yes, it's my birthday - but why are we celebrating it? All I've done is complete another revolution around the sun, a feat which I'm definitely not alone in.
I am also extremely uncomfortable with days which have social expectation and celebration attached to them or me as the focus. Think Birthdays, Christmas, Graduations, Weddings, Valentines etc... there is an expectation they are supposed to be happy-happy-dance-around-the-maypole type gigs. I spend the entire day holding my breath waiting for the one thing to go wrong and break the illusion, because in my experience 99% of the time it always happens. In many ways it's easier to not participate in the illusion at all than have it fail and disappoint.
Back to birthdays: So I decided to downplay my birthday as much as possible and my rule became I'll only REALLY celebrate when something cool happens. 'Cool' usually meant I won a writing award or something like that. But when that happened I didn't celebrate properly then either because I thought, I'll celebrate next time - when I climb another rung up the ladder.
And now? I haven't written anything of note in a while. So if that was my rule for celebrating then my life has become one unbroken nothingness devoid of celebration.
Maybe I need my birthday celebrations back again just to break up the nothingness.
These days when my birthday rolls around I make a goal - something concrete I can achieve which doesn't rely on anyone else (otherwise the goal is potentially impossible).
In 2012 my goal was to be in a different country by the time I turned 29. GOAL: ACHIEVED. I am in South Korea and although from time to time it can be isolating and has the expected frustrations of living in a non-English speaking country, I genuinely like my life here.
But 2014... I think my goal might simply be to celebrate my birthday again. Properly. As much as that idea makes me feel uncomfortable, it's probably time to bite the bullet and get over myself.
Now I'm back on Fakebook I've noticed a lot of trends this year, and I've come to the rather delayed realization that this is because it is our generation's time.*
Our generation's time to buy their first house.
Our generation's time to get engaged and get married.
Our generation's time to have their first or second child.
Our generation's time to climb the next rung on the career ladder now we’re no longer new graduates.
I would have realised this without Fakebook but Fakebook sure does amplify it.
I HEAR YOU FAKEBOOK. I HEAR YOU. BUT I STILL HAVEN’T EVEN FIGURED OUT HOW TO WALK IN HIGHHEELS YET.
Hit your late twenties and I tell you what everyone suddenly seems to be in a hurry to do THINGS.
I think I missed the THINGS memo.
Oh, no that’s right – I did get the memo. I just spilt tea over it. And then I left it on the table and then the ink started to run and then by the time summer rolled around the Eastern sun had faded it, and I couldn't quite decipher what it said.
Honestly: Part of me did feel momentarily sorry for myself that I seemed to have failed on all four of these normative milestones vs. years I've been on the planet, but when I broke it down – let's see how I actually fared.
Our generation’s time to buy their first house.
My argument against failure:
I don’t know where I want to live yet. What country, what city. I'm waiting to find a place to get me in the gut where I instinctively go: THIS IS IT FOLKS. THIS IS WHERE I WILL BUILD MY
TINY TUMBLEWEED or ECO Perch.
Our generation’s time to get engaged and get married.
My argument against failure:
Even if I was currently in a relationship, I just don't have a rampant desire to get married. I think a lot of people get married for the wrong reasons (not everyone of course before you start ripping me to shreds).
But for example, here are some commonly misguided reasons why some people do get married:
- We've been going out so long it would be a waste of all those years if we didn't get married.
- I don't think anyone else will put up with me.
- I'm scared of the possibility of facing life on my own.
- I'm not getting any younger.
- I don’t want the hassle and potential rejection of finding someone new.
- Everyone else is doing it.
- I want a Wedding damn it. But actually you just want the photos.
And because of that it has somewhat tarnished my opinion of it.
I just don’t think you need to be married to love someone. I probably would only get married if it was important to the other person AND EVEN THEN I’d probably skip the Wedding part and just elope. AND EVEN THEN probably end up wearing something ridiculous and unceremonial and devoid of tradition as possible.
Our generation’s time to have their first or second child.
My argument against failure:
I'm not going to lie that from a genetic perspective a mini-Kate would be very interesting, although if myself as a child is anything to go by, I’d probably end up having a kid that looked like an extra from The Village of the Damned…
But biological curiosity isn't a good enough reason to have a kid and I can somewhat satiate biological curiosity by using the MorphThing website which generates what your offspring would look like.
Yeah. I bet you’re all going to see what your kids would look like with Ryan Gosling now, right?
Or that hot guy from Prometheus.
Seriously though, kids are expensive. The responsibility is massive and I just can’t imagine not being able to up and travel somewhere at the drop of a hat, which you can't do if you have a kid.
Maybe I’m just too independent.
Anyway, this is a hypothetical conversation for my mid 30’s – not for right now.
Slow down everyone you move too fast.
Our generation’s time to climb the next rung on the career ladder now we’re no longer new graduates.
My argument against failure:
I keep changing ladders and the only constant is writing – for which there is none
(just a repeated kick in the shins).
In review, I'm feeling pretty good about my set of decisions. I have no regrets (apart from the subject of my undergraduate major). So, if you are like me and haven’t ticked off any of those milestones. It’s OK. DON’T PANIC. Everyone in their own time.
And even better? Write your own list or let things unfold organically. Who knows what's around the corner? Maybe you don't buy a house – maybe you buy a boat! A Tiny Tumbleweed that floats. Now there’s a thought.
*Kids of the 80’s.
Village of the Damned Photo taken from the Celluloid Moon blog.
Wolf Head Picture taken from here: CLICK ME.
"Hello! BEAUTIFUL" followed by an enthusiastic thumbs up from the speaker.
This is the phrase which sometimes greets me at my local Superette by one of the men that works there.
I know he's meaning it as a compliment and trying to be friendly towards the foreigner trying to be understood at the checkout, but I always feel uncomfortable when someone comments on the way I look. I feel even more uncomfortable being commented on in a country where they have 'whitener' in many of their moisturizing lotions and top the list for plastic surgery.
It's hard to explain how I feel, I think there are two things going on:
Up until my early 20's I had really terrible self-esteem and although that is definitely not the case nowadays the past still echoes through from time to time. So from time to time part of me doesn't believe compliments are genuine and I laugh them off - a facet of my personality which has annoyed a number of people.
On the flip side, the other part of me feels like I'm upholding some kind of aesthetic evil by being blonde hair and blue-eyed. But the thing is - there is no truth in beauty. There never has been. It's fluid and ever changing. Think about walking on ground which is shifting constantly like moving tectonic plates. That's how unstable it is. The misnomer perhaps in Korea is that beauty is like a mathematical equation: 2+2=4.
But they're not alone in that belief. To some extent on a superficial level (and I really don't like to admit it) I play into the same game that 2+2=4, even though it doesn't. I'm disillusioned by the same myth, even though I grew up all the way over in New Zealand. I get blonde highlights and the clothes I choose to wear, it's all a manipulation of appearance and how I want to appear (or not appear) to other people.
I always have the same hairstyle: long, with a few layers around my face. My clothes: neat but not immaculate. The idea was always to strike right in the middle of the continuum: too untidy - you're noticed, too stylish - you're noticed. Nothing flashy - no tattoos, only my ears pierced and only once. You have to strike that middle. The middle is where people don't comment because there is absolutely nothing of note to comment on and therefore you can grasp at some semblance of invisibility. Invisibility in a visually hungry world has always been my aim, mainly because I don't want my legacy to be - oh that blonde girl with the long hair.
But let's face it, humans take physical form and we have eyes. You are going to be looked at.
And my attempt at invisibility?
From time to time - like in the Superette - I still fail. Why? Because many of us still believe 2+2=4. But it doesn't. Not this time. It's just a lie we treat as truth so we can make it a concrete series of tasks to complete and achieve.
The limits of the English language to adequately convey the inner workings of my mind.
In the previous post I talked about concepts which exist in other languages but are absent or untranslatable in English.
That exercise got me thinking about my day to day life and concepts and feelings (are feelings concepts?) which I don't think there is any word for in any language.
Though since I am not Babel I can probably only comment on English and the percentage of it that I know.
However, I thought I'd have a stab at making up these new words:
First image in blog sourced from here.
Below image is taken from this blog and displays McCandless final resting place in pursuit of ideology.
The limits of speaking one language. This blog post is - unwittingly to her - inspired by my younger sister, Lucy, who is currently learning German. Over the last few weeks, she has been sharing some words/concepts which don't exist in English or at least, not in exactly the same way.
e.g. Drachenfutter - Literal translation is 'dragon food' but it is a peacekeeping gift a husband must bring his wife after pissing her off.
e.g. Kummerspeck - Literal translation is 'grief bacon' but refers to excess weight gained by emotional over-eating.
For me, language is the doorway to culture and one of the ways this is best demonstrated is by the discovery of words which don't exist in other languages.
I stumbled across the following word about three years ago and immediately fell in love with it.
It is from the Yaghan language from Tierra del Fuego (Chile - near the Southern most tip of South America).
It's often described as the most succinct word in the history of language and one of the most difficult to translate.
It's meaning? As defined, by the sometimes academically dubious but extremely useful site, Wikipedia, mamihlapinatapai refers to "a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves."
If you have a fascination with words and language as I do, I'll leave you with a few other unusual words but that actually exist in English:
Entomophilous - Adaptation for pollination by insects.
Apodysophilia - A feverish desire to undress.
Boustrophedon - Alternating writing left to right, then right to left.
...for more visit here.
A brilliant infographic: Untranslatable Emotions in Other Languages other than English vs. Parrot's Emotion Classification.
Click the above link for the full view. Here is just a teaser:
First image in blog post modified from: http://www.adinnerguest.com/60-minutes/why-mamihlapinatapai-is-your-new-favorite-word/
Possible sounds for the sun rising.
If the sun rise had a sound, what would it be?
It's not a rational question, I'm not talking about ambient noise like your alarm clock, birds twittering or the sound of your neighbor taking a shower through the wall. And, suspend disbelief before you bring physics into the mix that there is no sound in space, just think IF.
IF the action of the sun rising had a sound. What would it be? Something like this?
This? (Woman Sighing)
This? (Eggs Frying)
This? (Creaky Door)
This? (Balloon Inflating)
This? (Toaster Pop Up)
This? (Bottle Pop)
This? (Yes! Ha, ha, ha)
This? (Corporate Success YES)
And then part of me just thinks it should be accompanied by a song - similar to International Cricketers who choose a theme song to introduce their entry onto the field.
If the sun rise had a theme song, what would it be?
Personally, I don't think you can go too far wrong with a bit of Sam & Dave - "Don't worry, I'm coming".
Sunrise Image Courtesy of WikiMediaCommons.
I was born about 300 years too late to be an explorer. To be the first person to walk on the shores of a new land or put a human footprint next to the root of an unknown plant.
The closest I can get is walking in fresh snow. I live in a city, but when it snows, as it often does at the moment, it coats the pavement and the road.
The pavement is an icon of human industry. It reminds us there are people that live in this area. This is where they walk, where millions of feet have passed before.
You are not special.
You are just one of many.
Going where everyone has gone before.
But when it snows, nature reclaims that space. It makes that reminder of human industry disappear. Wild reclaims industry.
So, although I am about 300 years too late to be an explorer, one of my favorite things to do is to get up early and be the first person to walk down the street in the snow, as if I were the first person to ever walk down it.
Christmas and New Year
I've often toyed with the idea of deactivating my Facebook account but it took the New Year to roll around for me to actually do it.
I did wonder if the timing was coincidental, but on reflection, I doubt it. I think it was more influential than anything. A catalyst.
There is so much out pouring of mawkish sentiment at this time of year with most of it being amplified ten fold by the social networks that all I want to do is crawl into the rather large cavity under my sink and reappear mid-Jan.
You love your family. Congratulations. So do I. But why do most people only say it once a year? Is it because festive celebrations inevitably result in an annual epic domestic that takes another 12 months and a nip of brandy to recover from? If so, that leaves you with a damn slim window to get mawkish before all hell breaks loose.
But why profess on Facebook? Why not face to face? If it can't even be done through a cloud of alcoholic merriness, there is no hope for us. I don't have a problem if you're spouting well wishes to family and friends you can't physically be around. I do however take issue with this sort of fare:
'Just had the most amaze day with Darren and the fam. Ate way too much, best Christmas eva. Got totally spoilt. So lucky to have you in my life, love you guys loads xx.'
We're just a species that's evolved with the specific purpose of creating barriers to physical human interaction. Or that's evolved only to be comfortable dealing with emotion when you don't have to deal with the real time reaction. Are we DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL POVERTY? FAKEBOOK is it your fault? Fakebook will say no because like guns don't kill people, people kill people, Fakebook will say Fakebook doesn't kill physical human interaction, humans kill physical human interaction.
Yes, it's a dog eat dog world isn't it Fakebook? But here's a point, like guns Fakebook, you enable.
Anyway, long story short: I don't need to know you love your family, your family needs to know you love them.
And as an endnote to this entry I have discovered that there are actually sites out there blatantly feeding into this festive Facebook feeling frenzy. If you yourself can't even produce the mawkish sentiment to stick in your status update box, some freelance copywriting hack has saved you the exertion.
These are taken from FacebookStatus123.com:
"Merry Christmas! From my wall to yours..." (all the Marketing Execs would have used this one)
"The best gifts in life will never be found under a Christmas tree! Those gifts are friends, family, kids and the one you love!!" (Mawkish Sentiment Level - MSL = 9/10. Also, no editing here, it really did come with two exclamation marks).
Strangely enough, I actually quite like this one:
"Ha ha ha Christmas is coming and there’s nothing you can do about it..."
Overall and in sum, at this rate, there is no hope for us. But please, prove me wrong (I really want you to).